“Oh, it’s just my shoulder. It’s been like that for years. Sure, it wakes me up at night sometimes, and I take Aleve or ibuprofen a few times a week, but I’m used to it. It’s no big deal.”

Sound familiar?

Maybe for you it’s your hip, lower back, neck, or knee.

Sure, you’ve adapted.

Like the humming of your refrigerator, it’s become the background noise of your life.

You tolerate the pain and try and downplay it, though that’s easier some days than others. You’ve resigned yourself to just having to live with it, like rainy weather.

But what if that Thing You’ve Been Living With, that comes-and-goes chronic problem you’ve gotten so used to, could be gone in a matter of weeks or months?

What if it’s not the weather, it’s that you’ve got a leaky roof – which means there’s something you can do to feel better?

With acupuncture and electro-acupuncture, I’ve helped patients resolve or drastically reduce:

  • Neck pain that had been going on for years, so debilitating that this 71-year-old would have no choice but to lie down, essentially ending the active part of her day hours early. She had just accepted that there was nothing she could do. Now it’s either gone completely, or “slightly annoying” if she’s been particularly active.
  • Shoulder pain from an old injury that kept a 64-year-old from sleeping through the night, and limited her range of motion, now 90% pain-free and able to reach everything in her kitchen
  • Hip pain and sciatica that prevented my 60-year old travel-loving patient from being able to fully explore new cities on foot; tune-up treatments keep him pain-free for about a month
  • The bum knee that dogged this older adult’s yoga practice for years fully resolved (since treating the tight hip he didn’t even know about!)
  • Ankle pain from a decades-old injury
  • Osteoarthritis pain in the neck, low back, knee, hip, etc., kept in check for countless patients through monthly acupuncture tune-ups, enabling these folks to do more and hurt less.
  • Having arthritis doesn’t mean you have to hurt. It will, however, take maintenance. electro-acupuncture around the shoulder blade

Not only does acupuncture reduce inflammation, it prompts the release of chemicals that speed healing to injured tissue and changes the way pain signals are perceived by the brain. 

Being in pain taxes your energy, attention, and patience – and drugs come with their own risks of serious side-effects.

If your friend were living with this issue day in and day out for years, wouldn’t you want them to get some help? 

You deserve that care as well. Stop minimizing your pain, even if it could be worse. You’ve put up with it for long enough.

I would love to help you dial back the frequency and intensity of that thing you live with. Give us a call at 541 757-4868 and we’ll set you up with a treatment series or a tune-up. Maybe you can’t stop the rain, but you can patch your leaky roof and stay dry.

I’ve been talking a lot about electro-acupuncture and how it’s amazing to take down inflammation, get muscles that aren’t firing to do their job, and release the body’s natural opioids to relieve pain. But a lot of people can’t quite picture what it’s like.

My daughter Cassidy was visiting from grad school last week with her boyfriend Blake, so we combined an office tour with a demo photo shoot.*

Here’s how it works:

First, I do an assessment. I position the patient’s limb and ask them to press into my hand while I resist their pressure.

This helps me assess which muscles are inhibited or weak — usually due to repetitive use or injury.

In an area of pain, you can bet some muscles aren’t working properly. Resistance testing helps me assess which ones, so we can turn them back on using acupuncture or electro-acupuncture.

Here are some action shots of me assessing hip flexion and abduction, as well as her anterior deltoid:

After the assessment, we begin treatment. I insert needles at specific points in the affected muscles known as motor points, where a motor neuron connects with a muscle to create movement, and where the muscle will contract with a minimal amount of external stimulation.

Next, I often use a device that applies electro-stimulation to the end of the needle at a frequency of 10 Hz to cause the muscle to contract.

We aim for a strong but comfortable level of stimulus for just 8-12 seconds a couple of times.

Often, this is enough to get the muscle to do its job. We’ll retest and a previously inhibited muscle will test strong. This was the case with Cassidy.

Boom.

Here’s what that looks like:

upper trapezius motor point

I then applied electro-acupuncture to motor points by attaching alligator clips to the acupuncture needles and running a current through them. The sensation is similar to that of a TENS unit — a strong but comfortable pulsing sensation. I let that run for about 15 minutes.

 

See how relaxed she looks? 

Meanwhile, Cassidy’s boyfriend, Blake, who had been taking the photos, mentioned that he hadn’t been able to go running with with Cassidy due to shin splints. I gave him a short 4-needle treatment so could get a feel for what acupuncture is like.

   

Results: The day after the treatment, Cass and Blake went running together. Blake had no pain in his shins, and Cassidy reported that she felt “springier,” and the lower limb that received treatment felt “like it’s better at doing what it’s supposed to do.” So even though this was just a one-off “for demonstration purposes” treatment session, both 24-year-old athletes noticed immediate, marked improvement. And hopefully you got a better sense of what getting an electro-acupuncture treatment might be like.

This kind of treatment can be great for:

  • osteoarthritis
  • chronic or acute pain 
  • restricted range of motion anywhere
  • tight fascia or tight bands, adhesions, or “knots” due to injury or repetitive strain
  • wanting to feel your best doing the things you love
  • post-surgery recovery
  • old injuries that have never quite healed
  • preventing wear-and-tear on your joints resulting from compensation patterns

 

To set up your treatment series (usually 2x/ week for 3 weeks, at which point we re-evaluate), give us a call at (541) 757-4868.

(*My clinic is a health care setting where masks are required, but since we came in off-hours and have been staying in the same house for a week, we opted to show our faces.)

 

Let me tell you about one of my lovely patients, a woman in her early 60s who I’ll refer to as “Cindy,” who injured her shoulder when her dog suddenly lunged away from her on a walk.

The MRI showed a “massive tear of the supraspinatus,” one of the rotator cuff muscles. Its tendon completely detached from the bone, and there was swelling in the shoulder joint. As you might imagine, this made lifting her arm nearly impossible and quite painful. After months of lack of use, the muscle tissue atrophied severely and fatty tissue infiltrated it.

What this meant for Cindy was she couldn’t raise her arm out to the side. She couldn’t put away dishes into kitchen cabinets or get her hand high enough to wash her hair. The pain radiated down to her fingers, and she would frequently wake up at night with pain. On bad days, she struggled to put on a coat.

With surgery months away at the earliest, we decided to see what a short course of acupuncture visits could do.

I began with a neuromuscular assessment of the upper body. In addition to the supraspinatus issue that the MRI indicated, I found a bunch of other stuff going on. The serratus anterior muscle, responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint wasn’t functioning properly; there were severe adhesions (“knots”) in the muscles that were picking up the slack for the injured rotator cuff (subscapularis, deltoid, levator scapula and upper trapezius). Treating these accessory muscles relieved the nerve impingement such that the pain no longer radiated into the fingers, hand, or forearm.

After two treatments in two weeks where I administered electro-acupuncture, Cindy was able to wash her hair with both hands and could lift her arms out to at least 150 degrees and cross them over her head. The various muscles that had tested weak were once again firing. I instructed her in home exercises to strengthen the muscle, which she’s doing and is beginning to re-build strength.

No surgery. No PT. Just 4 treatments with electro-acupuncture and manual work.

After 6 visits, she was able to reach across to get something out of the glove compartment of her car, put her dishes away in an overhead cabinet, and fasten her bra with much greater ease. We’re continuing to treat twice a week for another few weeks in order to continue to reduce inflammation, increase range of motion to enable muscular strength, and reduce pain levels as she starts physical therapy. She’s decided against the surgery, as she’s making so much progress.

Cool, right? While this story may be dramatic, it’s by no means extraordinary; electro-acupuncture is powerful medicine for restoring strength and functionality to even old areas of injury.

You may not have to live with that thing you’ve been living with.  To schedule your series (we’re booking for April) give us a call at 541 757-4868 or visit brodiewelch.com/clinic to learn more.